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South Africa's ruling ANC party moves to downgrade ties with Israel

South Africa's ruling ANC party moves to downgrade ties with Israel

South Africa's ruling party, has resolved to "immediately and unconditionally" downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

Although the campaign to sever diplomatic ties with Israel has been waged within the ANC's ranks for several months now by supporters of South Africa's vocal anti-Israel BDS movement, many delegates to the conference insisted that the downgrade was spurred by US President Donald Trump's December 6 decision to recognize Israel as Jerusalem's capital.

"We salute ANC members and activists in South Africa's Palestine solidarity movement who worked tirelessly to ensure that the recommendation was well understood by ANC members and delegates to the conference, and who convinced South Africans that it was the correct moral and ethical decision for their country", added the resistance organisation.

The decision was taken at the end of a five-day African National Congress conference, in which Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as its new leader and South Africa's likely next president after 2019 elections, following Jacob Zuma.

Pro-Palestinian activists in South Africa celebrated the move, which had been endorsed by senior Palestinian Authority officials.

Earlier this year a group of Jewish Israelis wrote to the ANC supporting the call for a downgrade of diplomatic relations and the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) boycott of Israel.

Palestine, represented by member of Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rjoub, was among 54 delegations who attended the ANC's national conference.

"We South Africans, in our diversity, are united in our solidarity with the Palestinians, our opposition to Israeli Apartheid and our quest for justice", SAJFP said.




"The downgrade will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of worldwide law".

A group called South African Jews for a Free Palestine also welcomed the vote.

Hashem Dajani, Palestine's ambassador in Pretoria, described the move as "an important decision".

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the country's Zionist Federation issued a lengthy joint statement decrying the move.

"The SAJBD and the SAZF strongly condemn the ANC's resolution to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel".

The SAJD and SAZF said it appeared that the ANC's foreign policy formulation process "was hijacked by forces that have a limited interest in promoting South Africa's and key South African communities' well-being and are rather obsessed with undermining the viability of Israel and harming the local Jewish community".

"But the people of South Africa, in supporting a downgrade of that relations with Israel, are giving the Israelis and the world a lesson: There are matters that can not be accepted, that can not be negotiated", he said.

It is far from certain that the government of South Africa will actually implement the ANC's decision.


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